The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) supports stakeholders in Myanmar to build more transparent, credible and inclusive electoral and political processes. Since 2012, IFES has worked with the Union Election Commission (UEC) to provide technical assistance, support operational and systems development, and increase the knowledge and skills of UEC staff.
IFES’ support for the UEC, civil society and other stakeholders has resulted in significant improvements in Myanmar’s electoral process including voter education, training, and polling and counting procedures. For example, a collaborative voter education campaign conducted by the UEC, IFES and civil society organizations (CSOs) for the 2015 elections reached 29 million voters, including women, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities. As a result of these and other efforts, the 2015 elections, 2017 by-elections, and 2018 by-elections were seen by voters, political parties, international and domestic observers, civil society, and the media as inclusive, credible and transparent.
Launched in 2015, IFES’ flagship women’s leadership program, She Leads, has trained more than 1,800 women through beginner, intermediate and advanced courses, as well as programs tailored for women from conflict communities in Shan and Kachin States. She Leads alumnae have taken on leadership roles as elected officials, local government leaders and advocates.
In the lead-up to Myanmar’s 2020 elections, IFES continues to support the UEC’s technical capacity to administer elections and the efforts of more than 22 civil society partners to broaden inclusion and access to the electoral process. These efforts include supporting the political inclusion of and voter education for an estimated five million first-time youth voters through nationwide youth festivals, in person and online civic education programs, and interactive voter education game boxes. Civic and voter education materials are being provided in 22 different languages, including three Braille languages for the visually impaired. IFES and its partners also provided online civic education training amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts support inclusive elections by breaking down information barriers and enhancing public understanding of the value of their vote. IFES continues working on advancing the political rights of persons with disabilities in Myanmar, including persons with intellectual disabilities, and collaborating with disabled persons organizations to facilitate trainings, research, campaigns and other initiatives that support the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the electoral process.